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    Personal Injury and Insurance Law Legal Research Blog

    TORTS: Is Your Computer Tracking You?

    Posted by Alfred C. Shackelford III on Mon, Oct 8, 2018 @ 11:10 AM

    Fred Shackelford, Senior Attorney, National Legal Research Group

                In a case of first impression, the Wyoming Supreme Court has adopted the intrusion upon seclusion branch of the common-law tort of invasion of privacy. In Howard v. Aspen Way Enterprises, Inc., 2017 WY 152, 406 P.3d 1271 (Wyo. 2017), the plaintiffs leased computers from a rent-to-own store. They alleged that the store installed software on the computers that allowed the store to track the computers' locations, remotely activate the computers' webcams, and capture screen shots and key strokes. The customers sued the store, alleging claims for the invasion of privacy and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing. The lower courts ruled that Wyoming does not recognize a claim for the intrusion upon seclusion.

                On appeal, the Wyoming Supreme Court observed that the vast majority of states recognize the tort of intrusion upon seclusion. The court noted that only New York and Virginia do not, and that Wyoming and North Dakota courts had not yet addressed the issue. Id. ¶ 14, 406 P.3d at 1275. Reasoning that the Wyoming legislature has adopted the general common law to the extent that it is not inconsistent with statutory law, the court concluded that the tort of intrusion upon seclusion is consistent with Wyoming law. Furthermore, the court recognized that "Wyoming's commitment to individual privacy interests is well established." Id. ¶ 22, 406 P.3d at 1277.

                The court adopted Restatement (Second) of Torts § 652B, which defines intrusion upon seclusion as follows: "One who intentionally intrudes, physically or otherwise, upon the solitude or seclusion of another or his private affairs or concerns, is subject to liability to the other for invasion of his privacy, if the intrusion would be highly offensive to a reasonable person." Id. ¶ 11, 406 P.3d at 1274.

    Topics: invasion of privacy, personal injury, intrusion upon seclusion, computer tracking

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